A to Z of Soft Skills: G for Great First Impression
Boy!! How many times have we heard of this. But bear with me for a bit and let me telescope it down to the most important tips to keep in mind.
Why are first impressions so important? And why do they need to be great?
First impressions happen only once. We get judged within seconds of meeting someone. The kind of image you want to leave in someone’s mind is totally up to you. It’s better to get off to a dazzling start than try to undo the damage. There is another advantage of a great first impression says, Dorie Clark, the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future:
“You get the benefit of the doubt….So then if you ever say the wrong thing, make a mistake, or arrive at work late, the other person is more likely to assume the best”
So a great first impression comes in good stead even later and saves you from goof ups you might commit. Isn’t that an added bonus!
A few simple tips can get you the advantage of a great first impression. But the art is in being able to put them all together in every situation and be consistent. Here goes:
Appropriate dress: This is half the battle won. Imagine you walk into a training program where the trainer is casually dressed in T shirt and cut off jeans! Looking the part instantly wins you positive brownie points.
A genuine smile: A smile that reaches your eyes can make a great impact.
Confident body language – Make eye contact and offer a firm handshake. If you need to really boost your confidence, squeeze in a couple minutes to power pose before the meet. The combination of all the above becomes the great first impression you intend to create.
Be on time: Don’t arrive in a huff. You wont have time to present yourself well. Arrive a little before time so that you can have time to compose yourself before you meet people.
Use names: Like they say – the sweetest sound in any language is the sound of one’s name. So use it whenever you can. Look for name tags or remember the name of the person you were told to meet and use it right when you shake hands. It’s an even more of pleasant surprise when you use someone’s name before they introduce themselves. Try and use it a couple of times during your conversation too. If, for some reason, you did not get the name of the person, make sure you clarify right away. It would be quite embarrassing to not use the name at all or accept mid conversation that you indeed did not get it right the first time.
Enunciate your name clearly: I can’t count the number of time people just mumble their names. It gets worse when they have unusual names. Be loud and clear. To me, announcing your name confidently is being proud of who you are. I have never had anyone ask me to repeat my name. I am loud and clear the very first time. It starts the conversation on a right note rather than on clarifying names.
Dining etiquette: If you are catching up on a lunch or dinner meeting, brush up on your dining etiquette. Look up the cafe or restaurant in advance. Familiarise yourself with the menu so that you can make the right choice or offer suggestions, if asked. I have had people meet me in cafes and just shrug shoulders with, “Anything will do” when asked what they’d like to have. And my suspicion is that their nonchalance is more due to lack of familiarity with the menu and they don’t know what to order.
Put away your cellphone: You may be a social media junkie or in the middle of something important. But staring into your phone while talking to people you are meeting for the first time goes against you. It’s ill-mannered and rude.
This was a shorter list of things that you can do for a great first impression. I have a whole laundry list of more things that you can do.
Here are quick tips on how to feel confident in 5 minutes or less and 16 tips to feel super confident in no time. Some tips overlap – obviously- but put together there are enough and more ideas to ensure that you put your best foot forward every time!
This post is a part of A to Z blogging challenge where I am going to write about 26 soft skills in 26 days and give tips on how to improve on them. If you like these posts, do share them and tell your friends about it.